Film: 'Meet Bill'; Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Logan Lerman, Elizabeth Banks, Timothy Olyphant and Jessica Alba; Directors: Bernie Goldmann and Melissa Wallack; Rating: **
'Meet Bill' doesn't know if it wants to be comedy or drama. But this is not the only confusion that plagues the movie. This movie could have been much better if it was served with a better script.
Aaron Eckhart, who recently impressed playing Harvey in 'The Dark Knight', is in the lead role, but he is a far better actor than the movie allows him to be. Same with his co-star Elizabeth Banks. She was charming in 'W' and has a good sense of comic timing, but here she plays a one-dimensional character, whose redemptive qualities are hard to believe.
The first time directors - Bernie Goldman and Melissa Wick - don't quite fail in this attempt, but could have developed the movie to make it pleasing.
Bill (Eckhart) is in his mid-40s and is in deep trouble. He feels his life is aimless and is embroiled in a mid-life crisis. He got married, works for his father-in-law, eats too many candy bars and all the while is getting fat. To top it off, his beautiful wife Jess (Banks) has lost all interest in him and is having an affair with the local TV news personality Chip (Timothy Olyphant).
Bill finds out about the affair and slowly manages to turn his life around with the help of 'The Kid' (Logan Lerman) who he is mentoring. The Kid knows how to have a good time and seems to be too wise for his age.
The plot borders on clichÃ©. Most of the scenes fall flat, with nary a truly humorous or dramatic moment. Lerman makes no impression at all playing 'The Kid' and even the sizzling Jessica Alba cannot light up this limp movie. Her role is not quite a cameo or a supporting role.
The scenes of the interaction between Bill and 'The Kid' lack the kind of heat of the friction caused by differing personalities. Even Bill working so hard to win back his wife is not properly explored. We don't completely understand why he would want her back. Her sudden change of heart towards the end of the movie seems tacked on.
At times the movie clearly tries to tackle such meaty themes like the absurdity of local TV news, the pain of being an outsider in a class system, and the deep pervading fear of realisation of failed dreams. These themes would have come out more clearly if the movie was sharper in its sense of comedy. It comes close but just misses.
Eckhart and Banks fail to whip up any hint of chemistry. But they are fine actors and are sure to find success in other more worthy movies. But for those looking for some humour and a tale of redemption, 'Meet Bill' just might meet expectations.